The humanitarian needs of the people of Côte d'Ivoire are outstripping the ability of aid organizations to respond, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) warned today.
The situation in the West African country could worsen if the serious issues surrounding the safety of the population are not tackled, OCHA said in a statement issued in New York.
OCHA said the situation is worst in the western, northern and buffer zones of Côte d'Ivoire, due to inter-ethnic and political conflicts. Several hundred Malians and Burkinabés have had to flee their homes in the cocoa-growing region of Gagnoa because of arson attacks and looting.
According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), about 70,000 refugees have been registered in Côte d'Ivoire, with almost all of them originating from neighbouring Liberia. Many are reluctant to return because of fears of violence.
OCHA said it strongly encouraged donors to support the UN's Consolidated Humanitarian Appeal for 2004 launched yesterday with the aim of attracting $3 billion, $9.4 million of which would go towards human rights and rule of law programmes in Côte d'Ivoire.